Viktor Mayer-Schönberger: ‘A world to win in health and education’

Viktor Mayer Schonberger 250x250Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, professor of Internet Governance and Regulation at Oxford and writer, with Kenneth Cukier, of the bestseller: Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think’ believes that governments and companies have to understand how valuable the big data will be.

The professor has a clear example. From the Netherlands even. The Dutch public transport system with the OV-card. ,,You check in at the station and check out. But about the journey itself we don’t collect any data.’’ A big waste, according to the expert. ,,The more information we can collect about the trip the better.’’ And although data is the big buzz word, companies and more often governments still don’t realize how to subtract value from the data.


Of course Mayer has seen some ‘great’ examples of governments who know how to value this explosion of data. He points out to the smart transport system of Singapore, which is transporting 6 million people on a daily basis and which is extracting enormous amounts of data about the transport – the favorite lines, times – etc. Useful to predict with smart models the behavior of the people. Or the other one from the US: online maps which shows where the toxic waste fields are located. ,,These maps even affected the house prices in some areas.’’ But in the early 2000 the maps were forbidden, out of fear terrorists would might abuse the information.

Developments are going fast

But the developments are going fast and it’s not easy to catch up, says Mayer. ,,And governments are not known to be the quickest adapters.’’ Also electricity companies let a lot of data slip out of there hands. ,,With a smart electricity meter you can collect – minute by minute – how much energy people are using. Which gives them a great opportunity to customize and to predict the energy usage. But still – because of  the costs – a lot of companies are still using analog meters.’’ He knows that also consumers are not so happy with this ‘surveillance’ in the daily live. ,,There is still a lot convincing to do. The fear is very strong and not without any reason. We often read news that proves us right about this topic. Maybe with good regulations and new laws we can tackle this fears.’’

Transport & mobility

The developments in the transport and mobility sector are going fast, says the German professor. ,,Think of Uber and the self driving cars. Just imagine what will happen if Uber gets into the self driving cars. This would really affect the amount of cars in a city. Research shows that cars in the city are just used 4 percent of the time. 96 percent they are just standing there. An incredible waste of resources. You can also imagine what will have to the need of parking space in a city. According another research the parking spaces in cities will reduce with more than 20 percent. And what to think of the consequences of self driving trucks.’’

Health & education

But while in this transport and mobility sectors the future coming nearby very fast, other sectors are just starting to discover big data. ,,Take health and education. It’s so old fashion that in our educations system we teach the same curriculum to every child, but we are no robots, not everybody learns on the same way. But we just test on the beginning and at the end, while especially with education data could do so much for us.’’ According to Mayer the whole mentality has to change. He knows there are still people who call all the talk about data a ‘hype’ . ,,That is a no brainer, the truth is we were are better of with knowing more than not knowing. Data provides us with in sight. So people need to get on board, or they will fail. In all of the sectors.’’

More information

Viktor Mayer-Schönberger is one of the keynote speakers at the Smart City Event 2016. He is going to talk about why big data is key to smart cities.

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